BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southern University women's basketball will make their second consecutive Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament final after defeating rival Grambling State University for the third time this season, 71-69 at the Bill Harris Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Southern (19-12, 14-4 SWAC), the tournament's top seed and regular season champions, advanced to Saturday's title game and will meet either Jackson State or Prairie View A&M. Grambling State concludes the season with a 16-16 overall record.
The Jaguars came out the gate strong, taking a 12-6 lead on a Jaden Towner made basket from beyond the arc with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter. Grambling State would not go away, as Shakyla Hill came close to notching another triple-double (21 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals).
Southern took a 16-15 lead into the second quarter when Grambling took a short-lived 17-16 lead on a Shakyla Hill free throw. Southern answered in return going on a 12-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 28-19 lead with 3:47 left in the first half. Southern carried the momentum into halftime, with a 37-27 lead.
Southern held on in the third quarter despite Grambling coming back to tie the game 45-45 with three minutes left. The Jaguars were able to push through and take a 51-47 lead into the final stanza.
The back and forth battle continued through the fourth quarter, with two minutes left, when O'Bear stretched the Jaguars lead to 68-63 on a clutch three-point basket. Southern's Brittany Rose hit three-of-four free throws in the last thirty seconds to give Southern a 71-67 lead. Grambling St. had one final opportunity from beyond the arc but senior Courtney Parson blocked the shot to seal the victory.
Southern, who has won three regular season titles in four years, will look to win their first SWAC Tournament crown since 2010 when they return to Bill Harris Arena for the SWAC Tournament final on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The final will stream live on ESPN3.com.